There are few words that can describe the emotions that ran through me upon arriving at Dulwich Hill. Having booked several weeks previously and been assured (Yes assured. I have email proof) that checkin was between 2pm till 7pm, we arrived at 2pm to an open reception door, a closed reception and several smokers peering at us from the hotel veranda. After waiting awkwardly discussing option in the 'lobby' an unshaven man approached us and asked us what we wanted. Pulling out the Wotif receipt and handing it to him he pretended to read it before saying 'Looks like it's all in order BUT I don't know where they are going to put you.' Confused and slightly dazed by the events unfolding and the dizzying heat resulted in a mostly mumbled reply from me asking what should we do. 'Go get something to eat or drink and come back later...' was the reply. Leaving the 'lobby' we felt the heavy eyes of the smokers as we walked up the street to find the promised sustenance.
The proximity to two very nice coffee shops and a train station, along with the price, may be the only positives to draw from the Dulwich experience. After wondering past several small shops (liquor, groceries, newspaper and many closed stores) we settled into a nice cafe and immediately discussed our experience so far. About an hour later, feeling we had well worn out our welcome in the cafe we walked back to Dulwich to find the reception fully closed and the smokers still there. Luckily the man who we talked to before returned and reading our faces, pointed us in the direction of a door on the outside of the reception block. Hesitantly we softly knocked on said door and a clean shaven man emerged from the darkness (all the windows had newspaper over them). He read over our receipt and showed us to our room under the stairs and gave us a key to the front door (which was never needed as the door was never locked) and our own room (thankfully the lock worked, we tested it several times to check).
The room that we were given resided next to the toilet which was both a blessing and a curse. It meant that we could avoid the household if we needed to use the bathroom, but it also meant that the household had to walk past our room. The bathroom was incredibly sticky and on the walls was some blue god-knows-what [picture attached] that was speckled across the room. The shower drain was a hole and the toilet's inner lip was cracked so that water shot in several directions whenever the toilet was flushed. This provided a unique game but did not improve the quality of our stay. The bedroom itself has 6 bunk beds for the two of us which seemed like a major waste of space but who am I to complain with 3 beds to myself? The sheets were dirty and unwashed (I found several long brown hairs in mine and elected to sleep without them) and provided little protection from anything. The TV in our room had to be moved onto one of the beds to reach the powerpoint and the arial provided a terrible broadcast of the Australian Open. After hiding our valuable possessions we decided to explore the house.
A sign previously unnoticed outside our door, possibly placed after our arrival, provided an insight into the world of a longterm Dulwich hill resident [Picture attached]. The kitchen is spacious and stinks of some horrible event which cannot be imagined and we didn't adventure any further [Too scared to take a picture]. After half an hour we summoned up the guts to explore again and discovered piles of old free music magazines which we gleefully took back to our room. These magazines provided a simple distraction from the world outside our room for several hours until we left to attend a concert in Newtown (Crystal Castles if you must know).
Returning around midnight by train we walked the 500 metres or so to Dulwich and found the door still unlocked but used the card anyway (convincing ourselves there was no chance that anyone could randomly walk into the hotel, although only a hip-high fence separated the actual front door from the street so why have a 'locked' door?). Crawling into our possibly bug riddled sheets we wondered aloud about the possibility that someone would stab us with needles, knives or generally assault us during the night, eventually falling asleep.
Awaking an hour from the checkout time we took our time checking ourselves for injuries and searching for hidden valuables. Realising that my shirt was still drenched from the night before attempted to dry it using the facilities available. The standard dollar-dryers and washers were being used so I was forced to reply on the large air conditioning units outside our window which made me wonder where the air conditioning went... certainly not to the hotel. Lumping our used sheets onto one of the beds we cleaned the room back to it's original standard (poor).
Passing the reception we realised that it was now open at 11am. After handing in the key we were asked "What room youse guys stay in?" Without making eye contact we told him and quickly vanished from the area.
In summary, Dulwich is well situated and is incredibly cheap. Examining the experience in any other area can only bring strange memories and a sense of dissatisfaction of the highest order. If you're looking to save a buck and gain a priceless anecdote then this is the place to stay. I can imagine it featuring heavily in some Australian spinoff of 'Fear Factor' in fact. If you want accommodation with any normal standards or cleanliness, customer service or overal quality. For the love of God, spend another $50 and stay at the Formule 1.